My silky silhouette

I What if one day I say, Love I’m tired of this pretend-perfection What if that day I unwrap My silky silhouette Unhook my gold earrings Scatter my pearl necklace Unknot my braids of reason Only to show you My scarred forehead Muddied hands Bruised knees My bright doll-house What … Read more →

Intisaab- Kashmir kay shuhda kay naam

Mohammad Huzaifa Pandit Badan dareeda huun aaj ki ghata bain karti hui aayi hai Yeh sham ki kasini chaon, dehleez pay pukartay saaye Aur dareechon ki na-beena tatolti aankhain Khoonrez hawaao.n main, boo-e-gham ki muntazir Ki aaj qatalgahon say shayad phir teray kakulon ki mehak aayi hai. Haan wohi mehak … Read more →

Two poems by Asiya Zahoor

Hawa Mahal Lal Chund shaped the Palace of Winds as Lord Krishna’s crown. He tamed the course of wind to swirl and keep cold the Queens of Kachwaha, snow shrouds on beds burning sand. “Follow me, Ma’am,” the guide said, “I‘ll show you nine-ninety-nine windows. Intricate lattice work, heavily colored … Read more →

At the Foothills

At the Foothills I gather my summer dreams tuck them in yearning for winter — my savior at the foothills hauling a burden of sanity I wander uphill, my delirious memories rest at the foothills a weaver worries, will pashmina slip through a razor-wire knot? At dawn, colored threads tremble … Read more →

Three poems by Shirin Bismillah

Fused Thoughts From Moscow to New Delhi — we attempted To paint the flakes of cloud, intruding in the Unknown territories, reading Kafka. Sparrows who had a crisp morning dialogue For the last twenty years — had been looking for An empty branch and some action in Sheikh Sarai. From … Read more →

Four Poems by Farah Bashir

A Doppelgänger Then, you helped the lost ones overcome fear of floods urged them to forgive the river. Now, you curse the daffodils their violent scent makes you ache. ‘Who Your Fire Burns’ A neighbor heard you sing to me but you laughed not caring ‘jalte hain jiske liye’ I … Read more →

Meena Alexander

ON INDIAN ROAD In memory of Agha Shahid Ali, 1949-2001 I I have come drawn to water, Rooks in trees preparing for winter A glazed horseshoe dropped a century ago, Bits of arrowhead From those who lived on this land, Who thought the sun and moon beloved companions. We were … Read more →

Farah Bashir

AN EXPOSED BREAST Back to a void That fills lives To carry us over the abyss From another life Into spring ever the season Of empty streets No children No laughter No songs echo Freedom is a child A bride A child-bride A flower mutilated by a mortar A black … Read more →

Ta-Ha Mughal

I START TO TEASE MYSELF ABOUT EVERYTHING I walk barefoot on burning coals Children hoot and giggle I too hoot phyew phyooyew I too giggle khi’h khi’hh khi’hhh I look ugly naked I watch myself getting out of me I am in a labyrinth of mirrors I am in truth … Read more →

Fidioc

FROG IN A WELL The well is too shallow Water too cold Sometimes light reaches down Sometimes they keep it away Bricks and stones Are the only refuge I have Some flowers have bloomed Their color is black My croaks echo my fate— Stay forever in this well? Fidoic is … Read more →

Mushtaque Barq

AGAIN there’s a strike in Srinagar, paramilitary beating the iron, soft flesh of human hearts, using their special powers to kill. Again, clouds discover the sun and we are forced indoors, gates of isolation bolted, windows of pain flung open. Again, the breeze brings breaking news— a baby blinded in … Read more →

Aquib Hyder

I REMEMBER I remember my childhood caught in barbed wire I remember the smile of a child lost in a curfewed night I remember the echo of his mother’s wail I remember her tears waiting for her disappeared son I remember the bride’s gown stained by the blood of her … Read more →

Saba Mahjoor

OMENS a hollowness inside slowing down of everything an awareness of every heartbeat darkness of the back room a comfortable blanket drying up of lips uncontrollable tears staring into empty space bouts of confusion sudden rage feeling of loss his eyes sinking further into their hollows nervous twitch of his … Read more →

Roqayah Chamseddine

SEPARATION We’ve spent our entire lives clutching passports, airline boarding stubs, evidence enough to hush the howling wounds that try with all their might to convince us we were dreaming far from your embrace. I can taste the bitterness of loving you as if I’ve spent days chewing the last … Read more →

Ankita Anand

VICARIOUS I smear my lips with red chili pepper, Salivate between my short breaths. Biting hard, the searing taste reassures me Of iron within my dream of hot pursuit. I wake up in a sweat, Pour my head into a bucket of water. Clamp down my nose and mouth Counting … Read more →

Ghazal: How Many So Many

Rumuz E Bekhudi (Please scroll down for the English translation) Sawaal Kaetya Jawab Kaetya Muhabbatas Manz Hisaab Kaetya Su Yaar Samkhyom Tath Annigatis Manz Ath Roi-e-Chandras Naqaab Kaetya Tijaratas Manz Kehn Baezgar Chiv Kinaan Umeed-o-Khwaab Kaetya Wadun Chi Zan Aab-e-Joi Chi Jaeri Asaan Zan Chel Rabaab Kaetya Yath Zeeth Safras … Read more →

Wail

Ambreen Naqash The bride left Habilimented In white velvet. Youthful Yet too tired. Close to Nature Not of dead cells But of silence around. Relinquished By the crowd. Alone Strengthening her voice To be heard Accompanied by someone nice. Riding into the forest Of no notes. Searching the owner Of … Read more →

Childhood

Amjal Sameed In happiness hearts throbbed Souls innocence relished Tender loving care received Ah! Days of glee perished In laughing streams bathed Skin mud-painted Excuses purity-braced Ah! Time sea-dipped In blissful rain showered Butterflies hovered Birds on branches watched Ah! Moments remembered Ajmal Sameed (sameed6275@gmaildotcom) is a lecturer in Saudi … Read more →

27 October 1947

Ather Zia You speak of “paradise”— waterfalls, with some ebb, still rush over weary shoulders of mountains that stand like knowing children in Maisuma during a “crackdown”— meaningless exercises in words, left empty by presence of soldiers who guard wilting lotuses and stone domes of other tyrannies against soft bodies … Read more →